Mount Kailash, located in the far west corner of Tibet is the most sacred peak of Asia. With its four sheer walls, distinctive snow-capped peak, and valleys interspersed with brightly-clad Tibetan pilgrims, Mount Kailash or Kang Rimpoche (‘precious snow-peak’, as known by the Tibetans) is an awe-inspiring sight. The four great rivers of Asia: the Karnali, the Indus, the Sutlej and the Brahmaputra (Tsangpo) originate from here.
A three-day trek (Parikrama or Kora) around Mount Kailash over a 5630 meter Drolma La (pass), clockwise for Buddhists and Hindus, and anti-clockwise for followers of the ancient Bon religion, is said to erase the sins of a lifetime. To complete the Kailash pilgrimage, one should bathe in the sacred Lake Manasarovar, stunningly set on the Tibetan plateau bordered by the majestic Gurla Mandata.
On the journey to Mt. Kailash across the windswept Tibetan plateau, you will see cliff-top monasteries, wild-looking but hardy and hospitable Tibetans, yak caravans journeying over snowy passes, and the great peaks of the Himalaya in the foreground of grazing herds, yak skin tents and a glittering turquoise lake. Journeying through Norbulingka, Sera and Drepung monasteries, Potala Palace, Jokhang temple and Barkhor markets, you gain in-depth understanding of Tibetan ancient cultures and civilizations.
Traveling in a comfortable 4WD Land Cruiser supported by a team of local crew and an expert local Tibetan guide, you journey through legendry monasteries and the fortresses of Lhasa, Gyantse, Shigatse and other significant Tibetan towns and settlements over several high passes via the scenic NORTHERN ROUTE visiting much of far-western Tibet.
Driving across the wide open spaces of the Tibetan Plateau brings you to ‘Guge Kingdom’ (Tholing & Tsaparang), the archeologically significant remains of Tibet’s ancient civilization. Marveling once more at the barren yet spectacular landscape of Tibet you continue driving to the serene and most sacred Lake Manasarovar, before completing a kora (loop trek) around Mt Kailash. From there, you re-cross the vast arid plains before heading south to the Nepalese border and returning to Kathmandu. The magnificent sceneries blending with the sights of ancient culture make this an amazing trip that remains sketched in your memories for a lifetime. Throughout the journey from the Tibetan Plateau to Kathmandu you enjoy comfortable overnight accommodation, excellent food and convenient camping facilities. The unique culture and warm hospitality, ironically, gives you the feeling you are on top of the world! And you are, virtually!
You will be met at Gonggar Airport by your Tibetan guide. After immigration formalities, you will be driven to Lhasa (3650m). It takes around 45 minutes to reach the old city. After checking in at your hotel, you are advised to take rest. Drink plenty of fluids and let your body get used to Lhasa’s high altitude. Note: There is no fixed program arranged for today. .
After breakfast, you will be briefed on the day’s program. An experienced guide will take you on a tour to Sera Monastery, Norbulingka and Barkhor Square. At the famous Sera Monastery, you will get an insight into the important aspects of Tibetan Buddhism. You will also pay a visit to Norbulingka, the summer retreat of Dalai Lama. Completed in 1956, the handsome building is ornately decorated with Tibetan carvings and paintings. Jokhang temple provides yet another glimpse of the rich Tibetan cultural heritage. You will also get the chance to stroll around the busy Barkhor Square, the nerve centre of Lhasa. After the day’s tour, you will be escorted back to your hotel..
After an early breakfast, you will be escorted by your guide to the majestic Potala Palace. The imposing structure of the palace dominates the landscape of Lhasa. As you are guided through the ancient chambers of the palace, you get to see Tibetan art at its best. The Potala Palace has a vast array of intricate Tibetan murals and beautiful statues. You will also get to view the tombs of the eight Dalai Lamas. Later in the day you will visit the beautifully landscaped Drepung Monastery where you can observe nuns and monks chanting and performing religious discourses. After the day’s tour is over, you are escorted back to your hotel for a well- earned rest. Note: Since only a limited number of visitors are allowed inside the Potala palace every day, the order of sightseeing places will be decided upon by your guide. .
This day is for you to spend as per your wish. Explore and soak in the sights and sounds of the old city, revisit your favorite monastery, go for souvenir hunting in the busy local market at Barkhor Square, or simply sit in a café and watch pilgrims as they circumambulate the Jokhang. There is also the option of an additional tour to places such as the Tibetan Medical Centre, Ganden Monastery and Tsurphu Monastery. But this additional tour will incur an extra cost..
Moving along the Friendship Highway, you will drive past Khamba La, at 4794m, with a brief halt to savor majestic views of Yamdrok-tso Lake and Nazin Kang Sa, standing at 7252m. On turning westwards, you will come across another pass, Karo La at 5045m. If you look at the road, you can see huge glaciers tumbling down. After driving 261 km, beautifully landscaped Tibetan villages become visible as you enter the town of Gyantse..
Gyantse prides on Gyantse Dzong and Kumbum. Gyantse Dzong, a 14th century historical fort, overlooks the entire Gyantse and the surrounding Nyang Chu Valley. Kumbum has a large gold-domed stupa and houses several chapels and Tibetan Buddhist murals. After exploring Gyantse, you take a 90 km drive and arrive at Shigatse (3900m), the second largest Tibetan city. Tashilhunpo Monastery, being one of the largest functioning monasteries in Tibet is the major attraction of Shigatse..
Today you continue along the Friendship Highway to Lhaste. 157 km drive finally concludes at a small dusty town of Lhaste. Good restaurants, well-resourced shops and guesthouses are available in Lhatse. This place may arouse special interest for archeologists. You can spot many ruined dzongs and small Changmoche Monastery at the west end of the town..
A long but a scenic drive through grassy riverside takes us to our campsite at Sasang. .
Heading away from Sasang, you drive for 355 km towards Tsochen. The trail continues along grass-strewn riverside. Hugging onto the fascinating environment amidst amazing natural vistas, you make your way to a suitable campsite where you will spend the night..
The trail undulates past thick verdant hills. As the drive progresses a little further, amazing views of towering snow-capped peaks zoom into vision. Further ahead, a wide plain sprawls over. Thereon, you continue driving for another 84 km. Eventually, the trail ends after reaching Gertse. Camping in Gertse gives you ample of opportunity to bask in the splendor of surrounding beauty and Gertse’s cultural richness..
As you continue driving towards Gakyi away from Gertse, the trail wedges its way past a pass. Overlooking a scenically mesmerizing sight, the trail cuts through a wide valley en route to Gakyi. You spend the night at a fascinating campsite. .
112 km scenic drive from Gakyi to Shiquanhe follows the trail running along the Indus River. As Shiquanhe comes into sight, you will witness some positive influences of modernization. Houses seen in the town are of modern contemporary styles. After indulging in some interesting sightseeing, you will settle at the campsite for the night. .
Leaving Shiquanhe, you continue driving parallel to the Indus River. Few kilometers down the road, a small pristine hamlet springs into picture. The trail further crisscrosses a succession of pass and finally near Tsada, the Guge Kingdom. On finding a perfect site, you set your camp for overnighting..
Your guide takes you on an exciting excursion around the Guge Kingdom. This tenth century kingdom oozes ancient history of Tibet. With the passage of centuries, Guge Kingdom had to bear several ruins which as evidence lie atop a hill near a river encompassing an area of 180,000 square meters. Numerous monasteries, houses, cave dwellings and stupas nestled on the hill and its neighboring areas. When it comes to Tibetan murals, sculptures and stone inscriptions, Guge Kingdom undeniably comes into mind. White Palace, Red Palace, Yamantaka Chapel, Tara Chapel and Mandala Chapel are the major attractions of Guge Kingdom which are historically linked with Buddha, Shakyamuni, Songtsen Gampo, kings and ministers. On this exquisite excursion, you will not only relive ancient Tibetan history but immerse in Tibetan culture as well. .
From Zada you drive towards Darchen following dirt-laded road. On your 280 scenic drive, you will cross prayer flags-studded tall pole which indicates a beginning of a 53km circummabation around Mount Kailash. Darchen is regarded as pilgrims’ gateway to Mt Kailash tour. Shortly after arriving Darchen, you can visit Darchen monastery, a small shabby monastery lying just below its village, after crossing the Darchen River on a wooden bridge. There is a Tibetan Medical School on the west side. You can trek for an hour to get on top of a ridge situated on the north of Darchen village to have a clear and full enchanting view of Mount Kailash. If you look back to the south, you can catch a glimpse of breathtaking Manasarovar Lake and Rakshas Tal (Lhanag-tso). Further on, if you trek to the north of the ridge for another 2 hours, you will see Gyangdrak Monastery, largest of the Kailash monasteries, which has Mt Kailash’s four Buddha footprints or shabje. Whereas, on the west of the ridge you will approach Selung Monastery after 1 ½ hour trek and a trail from this monastery continues westwards down into Lha Chu valley, close to the Chuku Monastery. You can either spend the night at a guest house or camp at a suitable site in Darchen. .
Early in the morning you will drive to Yama Dwar past verdant meadows and picturesque streams to Lha Chu Valley. The trail overlooks Turquoise River cascading over a narrow canyon with high steep cliffs. En route, north face of Kailash comes into vision. After reaching Yama Dwar, you will trek to Dira which has a 13th century monastery. Visiting this monastery can be one kind of an insightful experience gifted in your Mount Kailash tour. .
Lha Chu Valley blurs as you turn towards Drolma Chu Valley. Looking forward to this amazing trip, you ascend to Drolma La (5630m), the highest point of the trip. But soon after sighting breathtaking view of Thukpe Dzingbu Lake, known as the Lake of Compassion at the summit, you realize that this tough and challenging ascent has indeed been very worthwhile and fruitful. Several prayer flags can be seen at the summit. Further on, the trail descends to the flat fields of Zutul-Puk which houses a monastery and several fascinating caves. The caves at this locale are most popular for meditation; Milarepa’s cave being one of them with Milarepa’s footprints and elbow prints believed to be imprinted all over this cave of mani stones. .
Away from Zutul-Puk, you follow the trail through Bharkha plain leading to Darchen. It is an easy walk along some impressive gorges and around many mani stones and mani walls back to the Bharka Plains and dusty Darchen. The kora is finished – you have erased your sins, endured cold nights and mornings, crossed one of the highest passes in the world, met countless fellow pilgrims, sent prayers of peace out to the world. Shortly after arriving at Darchen you board the waiting vehicle for a drive to Mansarovar. Traversing along the extraordinary landscape, this route penetrates the very essence of Manasarovar Lake. As you near this breathtaking sacred lake, historic Chiu Monastery becomes visible on the North West shore of the lake. From this vantage point, you can even glimpse at majestic Mount Kailash. This journey stimulates you spiritually. .
Amidst the serenity of this sacred lake, you will do your holy rituals. After some peaceful hours at the shores of the sacred Lake Manasarovar with the snowy massif of Gurla Mandata (Memo Nani) towering at 7694m just across the lake, you drive along the jeep trail to Saga..
You will drive to the bordering town of Kerung. The trail further commands far-reaching views of enchanting mountains, as you leave behind arid Tibetan Plateau. After driving for about 6/7 hours, you find yourself in Kerung at 2450m meter. This is your last point in Tibet. .
Today, you will part with your Tibetan guide and driver and cross Nepal-China border. Then after, you will meet your Nepali representative who will escort you to Kathmandu. It will take about 7/8 hours to reach Kathmandu (175km)..
Tibet is connected by railway line from Chengdu, Beijing, Xian, Xining and Shanghai.
Air China operates flights between Kathmandu and Lhasa (Tue, Thu & Sat - 2008). This flight offers spectacular views of Mt. Everest, Makalu and many other Himalayan giants. We will organize your pick up once you reach Lhasa and drive you to your hotel.
For Tibet, we organize a group visa, and in order to do this we will need a copy of your passport at least 30 days prior to the commencement of your trip. Tourism regulations in Tibet are subject to change without prior notice. As per current regulation Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu, issues visa on Monday, Wed and Fri (9am – 11am). Hence, we will need your original passport 1 day before the visa processing day. Those entering Tibet from mainland China (Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Xian, Guilin etc) have to get Chinese visa from their country (please ask us for the best way of doing it).
We bring together a small group of like minded people. During the trip, not only do they gain a memorable and insightful travel experience but also get an invaluable opportunity to interact with each other. On our fixed scheduled departures, group comprises of maximum12 & minimum 2 persons. You are likely to join a group from different countries. Average age ranges from early 20s to mid 50s.For private trips, no minimum and maximum apply. If you would like to travel independently or with your friends, families and colleagues you are invited to choose any of the trips at your convenient time frame for any number of people (min 1 max 100 at a time).
For your sightseeing tour in the cities, a knowledgeable English speaking guide will accompany you.
On your trek, you will be accompanied by either Nepalese or Tibetan trekking crew. Their aim is to make the trek as hassle-free and enjoyable as possible. They all speak some English and, although it may not be perfect, communication won't be a problem. Under the leadership of the sirdar, the crew consists of several assistants depending on group size who will ensure you don't take the wrong path, a cook and kitchen crew to keep you well fed with delicious and nutritious meals and, to transport all the gear from camp to camp, we use yaks in Tibet.
A typical trekking crew consists of one guide and one cook and the kitchen crew, porters and yaks. The ratio of trekking crew to group members is generally 1:4.
At the end of the trek, it is customary to tip the crew as a sign of your appreciation for the work they've done.
We use the best 4WD Land cruisers for the overland drive across the Tibetan highland. These vehicles are extremely sturdy, spacious and reliable and they make the journey as comfortable as possible. As for the trekking, there will be a truck carrying luggage and trekking equipments. To and from the trailhead points there will be yaks or porters to carry the stuff during the trek.
All breakfasts are included during hotel stay. Your guide will help you find good restaurants with reasonable price. A must are the small Tibetan restaurants who serve authentic Tibetan food. You can try ethnic Tibetan cuisine. Have some momos or gyantok, and wash it down with a cup of salted Tibetan butter tea. Meals will either be in the hotel or at a restaurant of your choice (where available). Expect to spend around 15-20 US$ per day for meals while staying in hotels.
During the trek, your cook will provide 3 tasty, plentiful and nutritious meals daily with a variety of local and Western dishes. To start the day, breakfast consists of a choice of porridge, muesli and cereal followed by omelette, fried or scrambled eggs with chapattis or bread.
Lunch is generally a selection of salad, cooked vegetable dishes, pasta and traditional breads.
After a long day on the trail, dinner is a hearty 3 course meal - soup, followed by a variety of vegetable, meat, rice and pasta dishes and completed with a simple dessert.
Tea, coffee and hot chocolate are also provided at all meals.
We use as much fresh produce as possible and our cooks and kitchen crew maintain exceptional standards of cleanliness and food preparation hygiene. Special dietary requirements can always be catered for.
Communication facilities in Tibet have been improved over the past few years. The hotels we use in Lhasa, have international IDD phone and fax services. Phone calls can also be made from public booth in bigger towns. Internet cafes are also available at bigger towns, check with your guide for the best cyber cafes in each town. These days, mobile phones work fine all over Tibet. You can also have a roaming facility added to your mobile phone. If you buy a Chinese SIM card at the border, you could stay in touch with your family and friends most of the time. Please ask us for the latest facilities and schemes on Chinese mobile phones. For latest updates, you can also consult our website- www.explorehimalaya.com.
In Lhasa, accommodation will be in a 3 star hotel which is renowned for its hospitability and ethnic Tibetan ambience. It is conveniently situated in the centre of the town, just a few minutes walk from the Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Square. Elsewhere along the route, accommodation will be in the available hotels. If you would like to book a single room, please do inform us. A supplement charge will incur in that case. Your guide books your room on arrival. If rooms are not available at the specified guest house or hotel, he will book a room at another similar category guest house or hotel.
We shall try our best to provide the best accommodation available but please do keep in mind that you are taking an adventure tour, and sometimes the arrangement may be basic. Traveling in Tibet is a fantastic experience but sometimes you have to put up with a bit of discomfort. To enjoy this trip you need to have an adventurous spirit and the ability to adapt to minor discomforts.
Tented camps supported by Nepali Sherpa crews shall be provided during the trek.
After breakfast, we begin our day's drive at about 9am. We'll drive for several hours, stopping along the way for photographs or places of special interest, before stopping for lunch at around midday. After lunch we continue our journey, generally arriving at our destination by 3 or 4pm.
Mt. Kailash tour is fully catered by our qualified and experienced crew from Nepal. Tibetan guide may sometime accompany the group but usually, they prefer staying back with drivers. Loads are usually carried by Yaks but porters are also used quite often as Yaks may not be available at times when there is maximum flow of pilgrims.
During the trek, a typical day would begin with a hot cup of tea brought to the tent at about 6 am, followed by a bowl of hot water for washing. After a hearty breakfast, you set off on the walk. All you need to carry is a small day pack containing important necessities like water bottle, camera, sun cream, hat, rain jacket and warm jumper. Porters or Yaks will carry everything else for you including Kitchen and Camping equipments.
On the first day, you have a gradual ascent from Darchen which could take around 3-6 hrs, depending on your speed. You can rest for the day viewing the ‘North Face of Kailash’ and gathering energy for the next day’s challenging walk over the ‘Drolma la’. The walk the next day is much steeper and considered to be the most challenging in the entire trip.
Today's trek includes a steep climb to cross over the Drolma La (5630m) and successive descent, partly along the glacier to reach the Camp which could take around 7 to 10 hours. The last day of the walk is easiest of all with 3 hours gradual descent until you are received by your driver to be carried back to another part of Manasarovar. Usually, it takes time to set up the camp and that’s why, walk on the First day is started after lunch. Because of the time required to cross over the pass and reach camp, packed lunch is served during the Second day.
The best time of the year to take this tour is from May to the beginning of October. During these months the average temperature ranges from 15C to 25C, with blue skies and clear weather. Though from July to August there can be odd shower during the day. The nights, however, can be very cold and temperatures can drop below 0 degree Celsius. During the day a light shirt or jumper and lightweight pants will be suitable, but a warm fleece or down jacket is recommended for the evenings.
During the day a light shirt or jumper and lightweight pants will be suitable, but a warm fleece or down jacket is recommended for the evenings. Comprehensive list of equipments will be provided once you book your trip.
Besides Chinese Yuan, only US dollars can be accepted in Tibet. Also shops that accept American currency are very limited and you might not be able to get a good deal for an exchange rate. Credit cards can only be used at some hotels. The Bank of China also accepts credit cards. ATM is not widely available. Exchanging your money to Chinese currency will be the best option for you, which can be done at the Bank of China (exchange rate between USD & RMB is 1:7.5 at the time of writing this text). While changing money at the local money exchange centers, please make sure that you are accompanied by your guide and do consult him as you may easily be duped with counterfeit notes.
Tibet is becoming more expensive every year. We recommend you to bring extra money to spend on souvenirs.
Tips are appreciated by your support team, after completion of the trip. The amount you give depends on your budget and appreciation of their work. For this you can allocate around 5-10% of your total tour cost.
Vaccination requirements change frequently, so we suggest you consult your doctor at least 2 months prior to your trip. The main health consideration in high altitude is Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). You may experience some mild symptoms initially, such as headache, lethargy, nausea and difficulty sleeping, but these should lessen within a few days. To avoid Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), people take pills called ‘Diamox’. You can also use these pills after consulting with your doctor. For your safety, we also carry the ‘Portable Altitude Chamber’ or ‘Gamow Bag’. The itinerary on this trip has free days in Lhasa and Ganden to ensure that you are thoroughly acclimatized before you trek across the high passes.
If you have ever suffered from altitude sickness, or have a heart or breathing complaint, we highly recommend you consult your doctor about your suitability for traveling to Tibet before booking. We suggest that you take some pain-killing pills with you and enough medicine for cold, diarrhea, nausea and fever. Some nasal ointment and throat-moistening pills will greatly be of help for those who are sensitive to chilly or freezing weather conditions.
Rescue and Evacuation
In case of a serious sickness or a casualty, which we hope will not happen, you shall be transferred to the nearest hospital. Since you are entirely liable for all the expenses incurred in evacuation please make sure that it is covered by your insurance before assigning for it or be prepared to pay on your own after getting back to Kathmandu.
Before joining a tour, we recommend you to take a travel insurance which should cover cancellation, medical expenses and emergency repatriation.
One should keep in mind that this is an adventure trip that takes you into one of the remotest corner of the Tibetan plateau, where many unforeseen events may contribute to the need for a change in the itinerary. Depending on the prevailing situation, the itinerary can be modified to some extent after consulting with your guide. However, the date of tour completion should always coincide with the original itinerary.
The Tibetans are classified as belonging to the Mongoloid family of people. They are probably descendents of a variety of nomadic tribes who migrated from the north and settled along sedentary cultivation of Tibet’s river valleys.
The Tibetans living within the borders of present day Tibet are easily identified by their distinctive dialects, social customs and dress. The Topas live in the highland regions (Lato and Ngari), the Tsangpas in the West Tibet (Tsang), the Upas live in central Tibet, the Horpas comes from the north (Nagchu/Jangtang), the Kongpowas from the south, the Khampas live in the east, the Amdowa in the northeast, and the Gyarongwa in the extreme east.
Travelers to Tibet inevitably find Tibetans to be friendly and possessing a great sense of humor. It is appreciated when you try and use Tibetan language when communicating with Tibetans. The further from Lhasa you travel, the more often Tibetan is used.
Religion is extremely important to the majority of Tibetans, and travelers should endeavor to respect their customs and beliefs. Always circumambulate Buddhist religious sites or monastery in a clockwise direction, and when in a monastery do not wear a hat, smoke or touch frescoes. In addition, refrain from climbing onto statues, mani stones or other sacred objects They are warm and friendly people. Some speak a bit of English and are happy to have a chat with you. Don't photograph people without permission, and be aware that some locations prohibit photography without a fee.
Losar or “New Year” is celebrated in the month of February by the Tibetans. During Losar, Buddhist monks offer prayers for good health and prosperity at monasteries. People exchange various goods and gifts among them. Families organize feasts and perform dances.
Saga Dawa (Buddha’s Birthday), celebrated on the 15th day of the fourth lunar month, is an occasion for outdoor operas and to see many pilgrims at the Jokhang Temple and Mount Kailash.
Gyanste Damang (Gyantse Horse Racing and Archery), celebrated in May/June, honours the Tibetan marksmanship while riding at full tilt. Horse riding and archery competitions are held during this festival.
Samye Dholdhe Festival is celebrated in the month of June, as pilgrims and monks from distant monasteries journey to Samye to watch masked dances and obtain blessings of Buddha.
Zabling Chi Sang (World Incense Day) is a special day dedicated to pray for peace in the world.
Ganden Khi-khu (Ganden Thangka Festival) is celebrated in July to honor the founder of the Gelugpa sect.
Karma Durba (Bathing Week) is celebrated in August/ September. During the festival, the Lhasans flock to the waters of the Kyi Chu River which literally means “Changing the stars” in the belief that if they bathe all week, they will drive evil spirits from their bodies and enjoy good health in the following year.
In addition to this tour, we can organize trip extensions both within Nepal and other neighboring countries. You may want to try white water rafting or go on a jungle safari in the deep jungles of Chitwan or take a cultural tour. You may as well take a trip to India or Bhutan, whichever appeals more to you. Please ask us for details or check our website www.explorehimalaya.com.
1) It is fundamental you acknowledge that this is an adventure tour. This requires some flexibility. The day to day itinerary can be taken only as a guideline. We cannot be held responsible for any delays caused by international or domestic flights, strikes, Government regulations, weather or natural calamities etc. In such cases, Explore Himalaya shall provide suitable alternatives which could be decided upon mutual agreement. If an agreement cannot be made, Explore Himalaya shall only be responsible for refunds after deducting the expenses already incurred.
2) Your booking will be confirmed by email once we receive your deposit of US$300 and the signed copy of booking form and contract.
The balance is due no later than two months prior to departure. If you book a tour less than 2 months prior to departure, you must send the full payment within 7 days of confirmation by us.
Those joining the tour in Kathmandu can pay the balance on arrival.
3) If you cancel, the following scale of charges will apply:
DATE OF CANCELLATION (Charge incurred)
> 2 months before departure - loss of deposit (US$ 300)
> 29 days to 2 months before departure - 30% of total trip cost
> 10 to 28 days before departure - 60% of total trip cost
> Less than 10 days before departure - 100% of total trip cost
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We work with the motto "Tourism for Development". Explore Himalaya Community Service Project was conceived to empower underprivileged segments of Nepal.